Last modified: September 3, 2018

Fishing Piers San Francisco Bay Area

Dumbarton Pier — Fremont

Posted by nufo

It appears that the farther into the channel you cast the better. Try a nice smooth fluid cast. Any type of jerking action and you will lose your bait. Also try Spider thread to tie on your bait. If you’re not familiar with it, it is an elastic thread that works 100 times better than magic thread. A shock leader is defiantly a good Idea. Try 50-lb mono or even heavier braid. As for main line I use 20-lb big game. I noticed a lot of guys out there using very heavy braided line. Connect your leader to your main line with an Albright knot. I have found that if you are not getting in or near the channel you will mostly catch little leopards and sand sharks. But then again it depends which direction you are casting too. I’m sure Jason and Carlos can tell you more about where to cast. Nufo

Posted by ben

Try using some Magic String to keep the bait on the hook… also, most of the sturgeon guys on the pier use a superline. When the current is really strong they use 10-oz pyramids… hope I see some of you out there.

Posted by jason chin

The grass is always greener out farther right? hehe. As far as where to cast — on the upper platform, facing San Mateo. I throw one directly in the middle of the auto bridge pillars as far out as I can. The 2nd rod gets tossed as far as I can toss it on the farthest auto bridge pillar close to it, (I believe the spot you said you threw it when you got a hit?) on the bottom corner one straight out and one angled a little towards the silver house on the train trestle east of the swing section. Line you could go a couple ways, mono 25-30 or braided 50-100-lb. if you like. I go with the braid more there just because when it gets busy a lot of people are using that and if you tangle up with your mono it’ll cut right through it. Power Pro is probably my brand of choice along with P-Line CXXtra for the mono. Use some Magic String and your bait shouldn’t fling off. For hooks I go 8/0 octopus for everything with no problem even the small sharks will inhale that hook. That’s dramatically bigger than you have now and some might say it’s too big but there are many reasons I use that big of a hook. Good luck. All this talk I’m leaving work and going to the pier right now. Maybe some stripers hanging around there too. Don’t forget about them too, I’ve gotten a lot off the pier around these months through the fall. Jason “bayrunner”

Brown Snoothhound — Thomas Orozco — 2005

Date: September 5, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: gyozadude; Subject: Undertow mechanics

From my brief experience with the Dumbarton pier, I fished just the crest of the tide slightly going out. This generated tremendous currents. I believe that the wind is a major contributor. Because the liquid of the bay is contained within a fixed geological volume, any kinetic energy imparted on the surface is going to generate some circulation. If the water is too shallow, the wind just whips the surface which results in splatter and foam formation.

If the water is deep enough, however, like 10 feet or more. Then the wind can generate a tremendous undertow at the bottom by driving large-scale circulation in the bay. And because the depth isn’t too great (like 500 feet), the circulation builds up in just minutes and not hours or days. It’s great for rapidly flushing out the bay and redistributing microbes and baitfish. But it can be deadly when coupled by an outgoing tide for someone in a float tube.

Although Jason states that they catch fish in fast moving current at Dumbarton on bottom rigs, I’m fairly certain that there must be a number of conditions being met. The bait must be residing in a position where there is a path of low flow resistance. This may mean structure (like a bridge caisson), or that the bait is in a small dip or channel on the bay floor, which we can’t see. If there is a shelf, there will be a pocket of relatively still water right at the drop off.

The other option is to suspend in the shear layer, which should be slightly above mid-depth in the water on outgoing, and slightly below mid-depth on incoming tides assuming symmetric circulation. This may be a reason why you can see sturgeon jumping off the surface. Could this coincide with tidal and wind driven flows?

A large fish with that much surface area, even facing into the current, would have to expend tremendous power to hold position near the bottom. It is however, possible to stay -very- close in the boundary layer at the very bottom. But that layer is just a few inches thick. A big sturgeon’s back plates would have some drag in that case. Same with sharks. The only ones who could hold bottom would be the rays and skates. For all other fin fish, it’d be much easier swimming in the shear layer near mid-depth. Then you’d be attacking bait from above and not below, which would explain why a hi-lo rig works on species who wouldn’t otherwise hit a bait located above.

Something else, I couldn’t figure out. I was running a long leader initially when I got my bites. About 7 feet long. Two hooks high up. I got two hits. It was after losing the fish, I tied on a shorter leader…and hits stopped. hmmm… makes me wonder.

I know I have practically zero fishing experience at Dumbarton. But I can’t deny physics. No animal would want to withstand the current without assistance of structure or by leveraging the isoclines where the relative motion of water is slower. Has anyone tried this?

Posted by jason chin

Maybe this short summary makes a little more sense. A boater’s approach to getting sturgeon. I come down searching an area Dumbarton pier for example right where your line is cast. It is the incoming tide the middle current is really strong. I see some fish hugging the side of the channel on the fishfinder. Instead of stopping and anchoring where I see the marks I’ll go past it with a tide an estimated distance to where I can anchor prepare my baits and get them in hopefully by the time the sturgeon travel through. I guess to sum it up, the bottom line is they are always moving in the direction of the tide.  Jason “bayrunner”

Posted by stinkyfingers

One thing about it — the mouth [of a sturgeon] is not designed to feed in suspension. The vacuum tube is on the bottom, definitely making this creature pick stuff up from the floor of the bay. I just can’t even picture a sturgeon picking something up that’s even 2 feet off the bottom… Also, these giants cruise with minimal effort, sort of like a big whale when it’s just cruising. Damn they have power though and you feel it when you hook one. I’ve never had any fish come close since that day.

Posted by gyozadude

Jason: Don’t worry about the wording. I understood just fine. What you’re saying is that the sturgeon are constantly on the move with the tide and never hit suspended and Stinky says it’s because of mouth geometry. According to DFG, sturgeon do hit floating food, and they found sturgeon feasting on a float sack of onions in the delta!

Energy-wise, moving with the tide makes lots of sense, but that means the window for foraging is relatively small and coincides with the transition from strong tide to slack tides.

One thing I don’t understand is -when- they eat at Dumbarton. If they are eating these small bottom crustaceans, then feeding time must coincide with the emergence of critters in the Bay flats. The small shrimp must be burrowed during dry times (extremely low tides) and during torrents when there is large undertow (i.e. during outgoing tides with southerly winds). The little guys come back out to feed on the bottom at the beginning of a slack tide and that’s when the sturgeon must come through.

But what about the times when the tides are unfavorable? A big sturgeon needs to eat a lot of food to maintain energy to swim in these waters. Can we catch them during the “off times” or do they not even bite during those times?

Here’s my guess. Assume that a 20-lb sturgeon (and growing) needs to eat at least 1 lb per day of shrimp or other food. That’s about 100 morsels per day for these small ones. If a sturgeon can find a morsel every 10 sq. ft of bottom area, to get 100 morsels means covering a 1000 sq. ft of area for each sturgeon. That’s not that big, just a 33 x 30 patch of water per sturgeon. That can be covered in less than 15 minutes…

Okay, so the numbers do compute sort of. This is a waiting game. The sturgeon can eat enough just in foraging during transitional tides to survive. Even if food is more scarce they can still forage during the transitional tides and eat enough to get fat. This means that the best way is to use a multi-hook rig with lots of tasty morsels on the bottom. Do you guys ever use weighted hooks to keep the bait on the bottom?  Gyozadude

2 Responses

  1. I think the hours need to be updated. It’s sunrise to sunset now. Also, I don’t observed any road closure these days, I’ll double check.

  2. “Striped Bass – 2006” is Nick “The Informative Fisherman” from a fairly popular You Tube Bay Area fishing show.

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